"Civilian" as written by and Jennifer Lynn Wasner....
I am nothing without pretend
I know my faults
Can't live with them
I am nothing without a man
I know my thoughts
But I can't hide them

Must you keep my baby teeth
In the bedside table with my jewelry
You still sleep in the bed with me
My jewelry, and my baby teeth

I don't need another friend
When most of them
I can barely keep up with them
Perfectly able to hold my own hand
But I still can't kiss my own neck

I wanted yo give you everything
But I still stand in awe of superficial things
I wanted to love you like
My mother's mother's mother's did
Civilian, civilian

Lyrics submitted by HELLisHERE, edited by TheEggroll, SongMeanings, Defelin, actoroutofwork, flashbulbeyes, thebutterthief, remembuary, miel716

"Civilian" as written by Jennifer Lynn Wasner

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Civilian song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentSuch a beautiful song.... here's my interpretation- I'm surprised nobody has suggested the same yet:

    I find this to be about holding onto a past relationship and placing your happiness in another's hands. She knows the way she feels is "wrong" but she still can't help it.... sometimes you know you need to let go of someone or you see your own flaws but you can't bring yourself to get over it. The line about keeping her baby teeth suggests that she's sentimental and has always had a hard time with letting go of the past, and the "you still sleep in the bed with me" suggests that she's still not over a past lover. The ex is probably just trying to be friends, but she doesn't want that... she already has more friends than she can keep up with as it is... she just needs someone to love. I don't really understand the civilian reference at the end either.

    Can't get this off repeat. I wish I didn't relate to these lyrics so much...
    lnzrogon April 23, 2012   Link
  • +4
    My Interpretation"Civilian" suggests a non-combatant, an unarmed person caught in the crossfire. In this case, it could refer to the singer's lover (ex-?), who walked into her emotional crossfire, so to speak. I think this works better than the other connotation of "civilian" (that is, an outsider to some group). The rest of the song dwells on the singer's emotional complexity, insecurities, and regrets, suggesting that her lover entered into the relationship unprepared for her intensity.
    McHaggison October 17, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Commentgood job with these.
    i just hear this part reversed, like so:

    i am nothing without pretend
    i know my THOUGHTS
    can't live with them
    i am nothing without a man
    i know my FAULTS
    but i can't hide them (also thought she was saying CAN here, but not sure)
    TheWrongGirlon March 31, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Commentfor me it just sounds like a relationship/marriage slowly falling apart, the loneliness you feel when youre with someone. an emotional history that silently weighs on them, and growing older.
    ..she needs it (the relationship), but cant give it everything it needs to work ..he's still there (bodily, if not in mind), but has given up on them actually going to work it out, essentially they both see its over..so until the inevitable breakup all they have is the memories, and pretend.
    sleighton January 07, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song seems to me like it's written from the perspective of a woman who's relationship has ended. The line about 'you still sleep in the bed with me' is, I think, more metaphorical. Like they linger there in her memory. The 'baby teeth' line kind of ties into it, describing a person who really holds onto their past tightly.
    CatAtomic99on May 17, 2012   Link
  • +2
    Lyric CorrectionRegarding the thoughts/faults ordering, she clearly sings it both ways at different times (lyrically it works either way). And it is "can hide them." There are about a half dozen acoustic videos of her doing the song on YouTube to check out. She always does sing "without amend," however. How people are hearing "without a man" is beyond me. Wishful thinking perhaps...
    jlibon March 05, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionThis is what I'm hearing. Especially the "amend" part because it makes more sense than "a man."

    I am nothing without pretend
    I know my thoughts
    can't live with them
    I am nothing without amend
    I know my faults
    but I can hide them
    embracedon June 19, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I don't need another friend
    When most of them
    I can barely keep up with them"

    I totally feel this line with me, because it's true, I can't keep up with my friends, because all are all apart and they have nothing to do with most of others, so I'm always juggling with some, so when someone falls out of me... I feel guilty and horrible, and I try my best sometimes, and sometimes I just can't help but let 'em slip out...

    This song is totally about insecurities, and I feel too about feeling uneasy with being an adult and fear of letting go of the childhood. The second verse is a total example of this. Great song, totally loved it.
    xwexarexbulletsxon July 25, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm a little late to Wye Oak...but recently came to love her voice. Anyway, the lyrics to me seem to portray a woman on the verge of a mental illness... perhaps depressed or with anxiety...she has some insight to this...anxiety disorders are all about incorrect thoughts and perceptions hence the I know my thoughts cant live with them. She also seems isolated like many with depression and anxiety - the friends reference. When someone suffers from these it often hinders their ability to bond or be in love...have relationships, often no matter how hard they try. I wish I knew what the Civilian reference is, maybe shes saying he is not affected and so cannot understand, he's a civilian...?... OK yes, I work in this field so I'm biased. But the rhythm and sound of the song kind of speak to this as well. :)
    KarenZon December 08, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentoh my god, why is a wye oak song in the top 5?
    it's because of the walking dead, isn't it?
    this world...
    TheWrongGirlon February 28, 2012   Link

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